A few years back when I managed to get out of the house, still heavy-eyed from broken nights of sleep, desperate for coffee and a few moments of respite without pawing toddler hands and constant questions, I would head to the coffee shop via the magazine stand. I was craving the need to sit with uninterrupted thoughts, able to finally gather my mind together from it’s scattered avenues of children’s needs to fulfil, a chore to be done, a meal to be cooked, an appointment to be made and another load of laundry to drag from the washing machine before it started to smell and not forgetting that cup of tea still sitting in the microwave long after the ping. A simple treat.
I’ve always loved magazines, a visual escape when my brain wasn’t awake enough to read the length of a book this was especially so. I wanted the combination of words and beautiful pictures that weren’t animated characters. When I was younger it was all about boyfriends and pop music in copies of Just Seventeen and Top of the Pops. As I grew older it became fashion magazines, then home magazines and craft ones, I loved to read them. But as I hit some struggles in my life I no longer found the sanctuary I wanted in magazines. Magazines that showed aspirational lifestyles that seemed so different to my situation.
The magazines started to make me feel inadequate, I didn’t have and couldn’t afford a beautifully and expensively decorated home. I didn’t want to buy lots of equipment to create something that I’d just have to dust. I couldn’t afford to spend £500 on one pair of boots. It was at this point I started to discover blogs on the internet, I discovered sites that gave me hope, where I didn’t feel so alone. I discovered the Nester, who managed to make her rental home look beautiful without worrying about it being perfect or expensive. I found incourage where women were encouraging each other with posts that brought life. I discovered Ann Voskamp who seemed to understand the depth of my emotions without piling on judgement or guilt. My love for printed magazines dwindled.
But part of my dreams growing up was to work in magazines, I wanted to be part of bringing words and pictures of hope to readers. I wanted to create beauty. As a teenager I wrote to the editor of Brio magazine and was amazed when she wrote back, it was such an encouraging letter I treasured it for years. I even made my own little magazines as a child and teenager.
I’ve been writing online for a good few years now, I think it’s nearly six years, first writing creative tutorials for a crafts event that I co-ran, then more personal blogs and about creativity and mental health. It became a way of creating my own little online magazine. Having worked as a designer my first love is print, I love the smell of print on paper and paper-based design. I love the single-minded devotion of paying attention to a book or a magazine without reading on my task manager which my phone has become. It’s too easy to do everything on that computer in my pocket, I can call my husband, text the kids, write my to-do list, catch up on social media, book and order the Tesco delivery, order the niece’s birthday present all at my fingertips and at the same time (well nearly), meaning I can be too distracted to pay mindful attention to what I am reading.
To read fully present I want to be offline, I want to feel the touch of paper on my fingertips, I want the slow turn of a page over the frantic scroll of a finger. Aware of my need for this and remembering that when I was a tired young mother, I also needed the simple treat of a coffee and a magazine – I knew there was a need for a new kind of magazine.
I’m a member of a writing training community and I floated my idea to them. I talked about my reader – her life stage, struggles, desires, dreams and they were keen to contribute. I couldn’t pay them, but I could offer them a beautiful magazine to be a part of and they could buy copies at a discounted rate to sell on. These writers are full or part-time writers with a heart to reach readers with words of hope. They have been so helpful and this magazine wouldn’t exist without them.
So here it is, iola magazine. If your idea of a simple treat is a cup of coffee (or tea!) and a magazine, instead of reading another celeb, home, or fashion mag, read iola. Iola will feed your mind with encouraging stories, gently prompt your creative soul and give it photos to breathe in and inspiring songs to hum. You don’t need another magazine to make you feel inadequate, you need one to read that makes you feel welcome like an old friend, right at home.
Follow this link to iola magazine.